Mentorship for women paves the way to success

Mentorship can play a major part in the future success of young businesswomen.

Director of Public Relations of Life Care Centers of America Leigh Atherton said mentoring greatly affected the direction of her future career path.

'I had a mentor my senior year of high school who encouraged me to pursue a career in public relations,' Atherton said. 'Without her encouragement and belief in me, I don't know what career path I would have chosen. She was the first in a long line of professional mentors who believed in me.'

Administrative Assistant to Vice President of Student Development Rosie Adams said she has worked with many female students to encourage reaching for future success.

'I think one of the biggest things that holds women back is self doubt and a lack of confidence in their abilities and all of the fear that goes with that,' Adams said. 'I think one of out biggest tasks in a mentor relationship is truly helping students to work past that fear and know they can be confident in taking that first step.'

While it is important for young women to seek out mentorship, Associate Professor of Communications Margaret Moe said it is also important for successful professional women to also seek out opportunities to mentor as well.

'[Established business women] also need' as we're going through to work with younger women, whether or not they're asking for it in a very collegial way to be able to approach [mentorship] as trying to help those women to do more than they might if they were on their own,' Moe said.

Professor of Communications Patty Silverman said when seeking out mentors, young people, men and women should have one solid mentor that they can go to about anything, whether it is personal, professional, or spiritual.

One way of building mentor relationships as well as real world experience is through internship programs; both male and female students can apply experiences and skills they acquire during their time as interns to progress in their future professions.

Senior Tim Moore has had multiple internships as a public relations major at Lee.

Moore said working in a field consisting predominantly of women has allowed him to witness the value of diversity in the work place first hand.

Silverman said public relations, a traditionally female dominated profession, is made up of 70 percent women and 30 percent men.

'Diversity, especially in the leadership [of a company], is crucial. Diversity provides a wide-variety of perspectives to your workplace,' Moore said. 'I can't imagine a world where we restricted that leadership perspective to one-half of the population. The same goes for our mentorships. I have a few mentors ' some older, some younger, some male, some female ' and they all provide very important perspectives and experiences that one person [alone] cannot provide.'

Moore named Director of Operations at Lamp Post Group and Partner at The JumpFund Tiffanie Robinson as one of his most influential mentors.

'Tiffanie Robinson gave me a lot of wisdom about the real world,' Moore said. ' That mentorship developed because I valued her words and encouragement as I was working my way into my career, and on the reverse, I could see that she placed a lot of value on encouraging college students.'

It was her passion for  encouraging young business professionals that inspired Robinson to partner to create The JumpFund.

As a partner in The JumpFund, according to its website, the company strives to invest women's capital in female-led companies with growth potential in order to generate a strong financial return and elevate the role of women in business.

Robinson saw the need for more diversity in the workplace.

'The best teams, and most innovative teams, are made up of diverse individuals ' including gender, ethnicity and social class backgrounds,' Robinson said. 'Women are a big piece of the minority gap that is missing in business. Adding a woman to your team could change the trajectory of a team for the better by giving them a new, fresh perspective that adds competitive edge.'

According to the United States Department of Labor, women make up over 57 percent of the American Labor force.

However, according to Pew Research Center in a survey of top leaders from mid-market businesses throughout the U.S., only 22 percent of senior managers in 2014 were women.

Robinson and women like her saw the need for female leadership in the workplace.

'Years before starting The JumpFund, I was involved in building and starting a few new ventures. One day I looked around and realized there really weren't many other women around me starting companies,' Robinson said. 'I also noticed that there were even less women investing in ventures, and there had to be a link between the shortage in women starting companies and the shortage in women making investments to grow companies. We formed The JumpFund with the intention of solving both of those problems, specifically throughout the southeast.'

Investing in diversity in the work place and female leadership can create a stronger company.

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